The students will have the day off on Monday for Presidents' Day. This make it a perfect time to get them thinking about U.S. Presidents beyond crossword puzzles on Washington and Lincoln. Today, they will learn about Presidential Rankings and gain some insight about the top five and bottom five presidents according to a recent C-SPAN poll as well as a slightly different list on a Top Ten Presidents YouTube video. Presidents Racing for the Top Spot.
I begin by giving them a morning warm up question about ranking the subjects in school, "Rank your subjects in a list from favorite to least favorite." This is a chance to introduce the unfamiliar term so it's instantly comprehended. A few volunteers read off their answers, many putting P.E. at the top of the list. I didn't give them a criteria (such as academic subjects only.) I knew the list would include things like P.E. and recess, but the objective - students understanding the term RANK - was met.
I now direct the conversation toward the main topic. When I ask how many of them know that the U.S. Presidents are ranked from best to worst, not many do. One student said, "Well, I guess they would be because everything's on a list somewhere." Good point.
I pass out the Ranking the Presidents worksheet and a second page with the top and bottom five presidents listed. They immediately list that data at the top. We go over all of the prompts on the page so when they watch the YouTube video they're aware of things to listen for and I answer any questions.
Next is the Top Ten Presidents Video, and the kids watch and/or take notes. It's only seven minutes long which is a perfect length to engage them.
After it concludes, I pull up the "How Do the Presidents Rank?" Smart Board page which has links for the Presidents listed at the top of their paper. We discuss the men, some briefly, some in depth: "How do the Presidents Rank?" on Smart Board. For instance, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's page led into a class discussion about his unprecedented four term presidency, and the resulting 22nd Constitutional Amendment about Term Limits. Another discussion that was interesting centered around the fact that the President ranked at number one, Abraham Lincoln, was sandwiched between the top two worst Presidents, James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson. With President Buchanan avoiding the opportunity to deal with the burning issue of slavery, and Andrew Johnson botching Reconstruction as well as opposing the 14th Amendment, Lincoln was unmistakably a rose between two thorns.
After we clicked on presidency information and discussed reasons why they may have been so poorly ranked, I asked the kids if they thought the opinion that Lincoln was great just made the two of them look worse than they were. Unequivocally, they said, "No," based on the facts we'd gone over. Using evidence and facts to come to conclusions. Excellent! The Students then have the opportunity to practice the ELA skill as they are Working on the paper of analyzing what they've read on the Ranking the Presidents worksheet, as they reread the text.
The only distraction during this lesson was the advertisements that showed up on the right side of the "How Do the Presidents Rank?" link. The kids laughed at one of a toilet named John, of course, but I laughed along. When I finally said, "Ok, time to be over it...get focused," it wasn't too bad, though I really wish there was a way to get rid of the ads.
On the Smart Board we review answers given, and write examples of all on the Smart Board. Smart Board note share.
We ran out of time for a true partner share to summarize the material analyzed, but I will certainly do that in the future. The students will find a partner and review their opinions about what they wrote. They will compare and support their reasoning for which president they identified as their favorite, with one another. I also like them to share with the class, so a few volunteers will do that as well.